Sights of Ft. Stockton

Annie Riggs Museum

Annie Riggs lead a colorful life and bore 10 children to two husbands.  She was born November 24, 1856 near Las Cruces, NM to George & Mary Frazier.  After the Civil War the family moved to Ft. Stockton.

In 1877, Annie married James Johnson, who became the first Sheriff of Pecos County; in St. Joseph Catholic Church in Ft. Stockton TX, unfortunately the marriage lasted only long enough to produce 6 children, while Annie ran the popular boarding house called Johnson Hotel.

By the late 1880’s when the marriage failed and James moved away, in 1891 when she married Barney Kemp Riggs in a Civil Ceremony, and they had 4 more children in addition to the one child Barney brought to the marriage.  

Barney received a life sentence for murder in the Arizona Territorial Penitentiary in Yuma, Riggs saved the wardens life when a riot broke out and later received a pardon, and told to leave the territory and never return

Annie was granted a divorce in 1901 and her son-in-law from her first marriage, Buck Chadborn, was named trustee for Annie’s settlement.  On April 1902 Buck shot Barney in self-defense and, since Riggs did not leave a will, the courts awarded his estate to Annie.   She used the assets to purchase the Koehler Hotel in 1904, and changed the name to Riggs Hotel, which she operated as a hotel or boarding house almost up to the time of her death at age 73, in 1931.

Anne Riggs Museum 1

Annie purchased the hotel for $5000.00 and the rate for a bed was $.50 cents, with family style meals @ 35 cents.  It was operated by various members of her family into the 1940’s then in 1955 heirs of Annie Riggs deeded the old hotel to the Fort Stockton Historical Society to be operated as a museum.

This is a must see!  On one of the walk around porch, hang many branding Irons.   It was fun to walk through the rooms, not just look through doors, as you can only do in many museums.  I have posted several pictures that I took of the outside of the museum; you will have to go through to see the inside.  It is very well preserved. 

Also you may be able to see the inside of the Grey Mule Saloon; it was closed the day we were there.

Annie Riggs Memorial Museum 301 S. Main St. FT. Stockton, TX 79735 432-336-2167

Pecos County Jail

Pecos County Jail

The old Pecos County Jail, one of the oldest structures in West, Texas was built in 1883 of 2 foot thick Limestone blocks that still show imbedded animal fossils; in the close-up picture you will see them.  It was enlarged in 1913 and now includes a museum in what used to be the Sheriff, Deputies and jailers.  The second floor housed the prisoners.   We toured the jail and found that the inside was pretty dismal for the prisoners, but then is jail supposed to be pleasant?  It is all grey; walls, floors and bars.  We turned a corner and jumped d by a prisoner in a black and white striped suit.  Scared the bejeesus out of me.

closeup of fossel imbedded in Limestone block

Jail cell in Peco County Jail

Pecos County Jail 2 jpg

We took several pictures of the cells and one of the large cell with tables, and a shower that was added in 1955. Before that buckets of water were carried up the stairs access to the cells up stairs is by a winding metal staircase.

 

Across from the jail is a nice park called Zero Stone, named because it was used as a zero marking point for all surveys.   The Pecos, County Jail, Zero Stone Park, Annie Riggs Museum, and the Grey Mule Saloon are all within easy walking distance.   

Zero Stone Park with Gazebo

 

Be sure to see the Ft. Stockton Museum where they housed the Buffalo Soldiers and, don’t forget to go see Pisano Pete! 

BTW, just up the street from the Jail is a nice restaurant called “B’s”.  They make a very good sandwich and fresh cut and cooked while you wait, fries, and reasonably priced, too! 

If you are looking for a good priced RV Park in Ft. Stockton, we stayed at Ft. Stockton RV for a month and they were very nice to us.  Dottie helped us find a place near the WiFi tower and Pool.  It is a short drive to Town and very little highway noise, although it is not far off the highway and easy back on, too!. 

Happy Traveling!

 

Buffalo Soldiers

 

This week we toured part of the Historic Ft. Stockton and plan on going back again in a couple weeks to see more of the fort buildings that are being renovated.  The only building open was the museum.  Some of the buildings will not be available to tour, but seeing where these brave men fought and died is worth heat. 

The 10th Cavalry Regiment was formed September 21, 1886 at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.  They were named “Buffalo Soldiers” for two reasons, their fierce fighting, and by their black kinky hair, which to the Native Americans reminded them of the big, hard to kill Buffalo which sported large shaggy fur on its head and shoulders.

The 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry fought during the Civil War as part of the Union Army.  As slaves and as freemen the Black man has served in French and Indian War, American Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, in the Battle of New Orleans.  In the Civil War (oxymoron), 180,000 Black men wore the Union Blue, and 33,380 died in that conflict?

When that war ended the Western unrest began.  The Indians resented be pushed off their land and onto Reservations, where they could not hunt as they did in the past.  Their Buffalo were being hunted for sport to extinction, and they relied on the Buffalo for their livelihood. 

In July of 1866, Congress passed an Act that increased the number of regiment’s form 19 to 45, and they stipulated that 2 cavalry and 4 infantry units “shall be composed of colored men”.   For the first time the regiments were authorized as part of the regular army.

They were the 9th and 10th Cavalry and 38th, 39th, 40th, and 41st United States Infantry.  Colonel Edward Hatch was selected to command the 9th Cavalry, and Colonel Benjamin Grierson commanded the 10th.

The 9th Cavalry was stationed at Fort Stockton in the summer of 1867.  These men came from the cooler climates to the South East United States, and the fact that they were able to acclimate to the dry, hot of the west is testament to their strength. They were named Buffalo Soldiers by the Indians as a gesture of extreme respect, because the Buffalo was the most sacred animal to the Indians. The 10th accepted the compliment and used the image on their crest. 

Black troops served at Fort Stockton from 1867 to 1886, and Black units have served in the Spanish American War, Philippine Insurrection, Mexican Punitive Expedition, World War 1, World War 2, and the Korean War.  In the mid 1950’s the last Black units were desegregated.  

When we go back I will take some pictures and post them. 

 

Old Tunnel Wildlife Management Area

Bats emerging from caveOld Tunnel Wildlife Management Area

Last night we visited the Old Tunnel WMA to watch the Mexican Free-tailed Bats emerge from the old abandoned Railroad tunnel. It houses a seasonal colony of approximately 1 to 3 million Bats.

Everything that you have heard about Bats is not true, however they are wild mammals, and do nurse their young.  Since they must be warm, many bats occupy a small space. The females leave the tunnel in the spring and go south to warmer climates to have their babies and come back with their pups later in the season.

It was awesome to see them swoop out of the cave in waves in a vortex and fly high in closely knitted packs that looked a lot like black smoke as they got further and further away from us.  The Volunteers from the Department of Wildlife asked us to be somewhat quiet and not take lots of flash pictures, however I did get one picture from my small camera that shows them if you look very closely.  It looks more like a lot of foliage on the tree than bats because of the distance.

They have a lower viewing area that you pay $5.00 each for and you get a lot closed to them, which would have been great, and we would have done it, however, by 8:00 they were sold out.  We didn’t even think to bring our Binoculars! Duh!

To get to the Old Tunnel you have to come in from either Fredericksburg, TX or from Kerrville, TX.  We are currently staying in Comfort, TX so we took 87 south then East on FM (Farm Road) 473 which takes you underneath I-10 and then on a two lane paved road 5 miles,  then when FM473 takes a right turn to Sisterdale, go straight ahead on Old #9 Hwy for about 8 more miles.  You can’t miss it! It is on the right and there are signs.  When I said straight, I was kidding, the road is a typical farm road and twist and turns a lot, so if you don’t want to end up in the “pucker brush” take it a little slow.

Next to the Bat viewing area there is a Restaurant that has live music.  We walked over and listened for a few minutes, but decided to head back before there was a caravan of cars.  Well worth your time, if you are down this way, a must see.